Iraqi dead, wounded estimated at 50,000 WAR IN THE GULF

February 19, 1991|By Knight-Ridder News Service

DHAHRAN, Saudi Arabia -- A month of allied bombing may have killed or wounded 50,000 to 60,000 Iraqi soldiers, according to a pair of military analysts experienced in estimating battlefield casualties.

There are no confirmed Iraqi casualty figures available, but formulas developed in the aftermath of past conflicts indicate that as many as 18,000 Iraqi troops may have died in the bombing, according to one military theorist, Trevor Dupuy.

Mr. Dupuy, a retired U.S. Army colonel, estimated the total Iraqi casualties at 60,000. James F. Dunnigan, a military historian, using similar techniques to calculate the losses, estimated the number of Iraqi dead and wounded at 50,000.

U.S. commanders have refused to speculate on the number of troops killed in the more than 80,000 allied air missions.

But the military has not been so hesitant about providing fairly specific estimates of the number of tanks, artillery pieces, missile launchers, planes and boats that have been destroyed.

Mr. Dupuy and Mr. Dunnigan have used formulas for correlating those equipment losses to human ones to estimate Iraqi losses.

Both men make clear that their calculations could be imprecise. A unit's ability to sustain losses varies greatly from one war to the next, and is based on such factors as terrain, firepower, logistical support, weather and training, they said.

The bombing also appears to have interfered with medical care for the Iraqi wounded, likely increasing the death rate beyond the previously established norm of about 20 percent of all casualties.

Ratios developed by military strategists based on the experience of World War II and subsequent wars suggest that the percentage of lost armor -- tanks, artillery and military vehicles -- generally runs about five to six times the percentage of soldiers killed and wounded.

At the end of last week, Pentagon sources claimed that allied strikes had destroyed more than 1,300 of Iraq's 4,000 tanks, or about 33 percent. Similar destruction ratios hold for vehicles and artillery pieces.

Applying that ratio to Iraq's army of about 550,000 men would yield an estimate of more than 30,000 casualties, or about 1,000 daily in the month of warfare.

Baltimore Sun Articles
|
|
|
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.